Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Servant leadership is not the same as following

God is being so gracious to me lately. He is teaching me so much of what it means to be a man of God and a Godly husband. I am excited to see what God teaches me as He continues to draw me to himself with mercy and love! It is amazing to me how little I knew growing up, and how little I learned by my own observation of our culture. In fact, culture has done nothing but hinder my responsibility to God, my wife, and my children. I am ever so thankful that God allowed me to grow closer to him and further from what culture teaches. I confess that part of the reason this growth happened is because I was forced into responsibility by having kids at a "young" (23) age.  So on top of thanking God for how blessed I am, I thank Him for forcing me to grow up. I pray that I can teach my kids to grow up like Jesus (at a "young" age-12), and not like people living in our culture (in our late twenties?).
  • "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known" I Corinthians 13:11,12
  • "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Ephesisians 5:15-17
  • " And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man." Luke 2:52
So anyways, to begin I think I need to explain what I believe is the Biblical model for my role as a husband(If you believe differently based solely on the reading of scripture that is great that you took the time to study the scriptures for yourself-we will both give account before God for our beliefs). God is convicting me lately what it means to be a servant leader in the home and what that looks like. I am commanded by God to lead my family in the same way that Emily is commanded to submit to the authority God gave to me as leader of the family.

What does that look like in a modern day family? Well hopefully it looks the same as when an eternal timeless God proclaimed it 2,000 years ago.

However there is the concept that Satan wants us to believe in ignorance. If i were to look at a model of leadership and submission in today's society I would be apaulled to find over abusing, power hungry husbands who use their power for their own selfish ends, and abuse the submission of the wife to their advantage. Its no wonder that concept is rejected by so many women and men of Christ. The world and all its wisdom has nothing to offer us on how we should live as husbands in Christ, so neither men nor women should by into its philosophy.
  • "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of his body." Ephesians 5:22-30
  • "and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." Titus 2:4,5
  • " Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.." I Timothy 2:11,12
  • "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8
  • "See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:8
  • "training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ," Titus 2:12,13
  • "This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.”  Under three things the earth trembles; under four it cannot bear up: a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is filled with food; an unloved woman when she gets a husband, and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress." Proverbs 30:20-23
Yet if I look to God's perfect word for my idea of leadership and submission what I find is so beautiful I get excited thinking about it. Husbands are commanded to love their wife as Christ loved the church and give themselves up for her. That idea of "leadership" is not how we understand it in society, it is one of mutual trust, that the other spouse is looking out for each others needs. If we, as husbands who professes to love Christ, act the way Christ did and lead with servant hearts; our wives would find it easy to follow that example. Let us take Christ for example, who had all the power of His father and the angels and could have commended anything He wanted to anyone He wanted. Yet He did NONE of that while on earth. Instead He gave up ALL His own desires to serve His father's will. If we as husbands are committed to doing NOTHING for our own selfish gain, and instead are prayerfully seeking what God's desire for each individual in our family is-then we are truly leading. I know plenty of people who would follow a leader when they know the leader is seeking God and being faithful to Christ.
  • "Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." 1 Peter 3:7
  • "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." Philippians 2:3-7
  • "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God...For man was not made from woman, but woman from man." I Corinthians 11:3&8
So then, Christian husbands, I challenge you to lead your family the way Christ led the church and to NOT follow the World's way of doing things.  We first need to understand that we are responsible for the actions of our entire family and we will give an account to God for how they are treated. If we realize this responsibility from our Lord, then we will act more intentionally to be building them up and encouraging them in the word. God calls us to present our wives to Him as holy. To accomplish this we need to wash her with the word. Scripture, scripture, and more scripture. If I love God, I will love my wife and sacrifice for her and teach/instruct her so that she may stand before her creator a blameless creature, for that is how I will be truly blessed!
  • "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you." Hebrews 13:17
  • "that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." Ephesians 5:26-27
  • "In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’" Acts 20:35 
 I aspire to one day be worthy of Christ enough to be called an elder, though I know I have a long way to go before Christ's regenerative work gets me there. One of the qualifications for becoming is an elder is a man who has his house in order. How can we have our house in order if we are not serving them and encouraging them with peace and love. This is not a brutal fearful leadership that commands with oppression. It is a leadership that, with an open hand, loves, and allows for a reciprocal love and sacrifice back. I need to model sacrifice for my wife, so that when I ask her to sacrifice for Christ and the family it will come naturally to her. Personally I don't think that my house could be in order if I just dictated all of the family decisions without consulting with my wife-who is also full of the spirit and an equal heir to the heavenly kingdom. And so leading means listening to the cry of soul from your wife and kids, but then making a decision based on what you believe is Christ's best for your family. Knowing full well that we are called to peace, grace, and love-not dictatorship, macho-ism, or thinking we as men are the only individuals who gain the wisdom of Christ when He enters us.
    • "He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?" I Timothy 3:4-5
    • "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4
    • "Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun." Ecclesiates 9:9
    • "But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named." Genesis 21:12
    • "Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  “Many women have done excellently,  but you surpass them all.”" Proverbs 31:28-29
    One other thing this looks like is serving your wife by providing for you family. Unfortunately Adam failed and so there is a curse placed upon all mankind because of his lack of faith. By the sweat of our brow we will work. If that is the man's curse, then we must bear it. For everyone it does not mean in the field, but it does mean we have to work to provide for our family. It does not mean you have to find the perfect job before you can provide, but you are blessed if you find a job you enjoy as you serve Christ by providing for you family. So let us say for example that our spouse wants to work and we as the man does not. Do we have "servant leadership" and let her work by giving up that right?! NO because we are not serving her, we are serving Christ, a higher calling. And if we give in to that we are failing to provide, then we would be called worse than an unbeliever.
    • "But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."  I Timothy 5:8
    • "By the sweat of your face  you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”" Genesis 3:19
    • "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4
    • "Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God
      and him only shall you serve.'"" Matthew 4:10
    Also as men of Christ, we are to expect nothing for selfish gain. When we put expectations on our wives and they don't measure up we are disappointed or mad. We are to find fulfillment in Christ alone and serve our wives. Nowhere does it say that we should expect things done for us. If we do that it is not sacrifice-that is just returning favor for favor. We need to turn to Christ to meet our needs, not our spouse. If I live to serve God and have no expectations for Emily, then my only response of things Emily does is gratitude. It never leads to disappointment, resentment, or idolatry because I am relying on God and feeling grateful for Emily's service. Hopefully both husband and wife feels this way.  Then they will naturally build each other up without expecting anything in return. This, for me, includes giving up my right to back rubs, cooking and cleaning done by my wife, intimacy, and a right to free, alone, or "dad time."
    • "And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23
    • "For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him" Psalm 62:5
    • "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
    Don't confuse chivalry with giving up our God given authority. Sometimes chivalry looks like giving up our right to meet the needs of the woman. Yet our calling is higher than just the woman. We don't give up our right, or stance to the every whim of the woman's desire. We are called to serve her only in that which will build her up for Christ, and in accordance with His law. So sometimes it looks like following her lead, but it is an intentional sacrifice of our needs with the full knowledge you are serving Christ. Never give up leadership because you are afraid to lead, don't want to upset your wife, or because you are scared she wont like it. All those reasons are because you "fear" your wife, and you do not "fear" God. That is a whole other post, but for now please consider what God's word commands us as men of Christ.
    • "You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him." Deuteronomy 13:4
    • "Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.  The greatest among you shall be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:10-12
    • "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men," Colossians 3:23
    • "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe." Proverbs 29:25
    If you are a woman reading this and you want to show your husband and go "see I told you so," please don't take that approach. Please by prayer build up and encourage your husband to lead by submitting and supporting him fully, allowing him to gain confidence in Christ and thus lead with boldness for Him! You are equally called to serve and love Him and give your husband his desires, or at least those which are not ungodly. In doing so it allows your man to feel respected and loved and more capable of leading.

    Friday, July 8, 2011


    Jeremiah is filled with lovely verses like this one:

    Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3

    I love verses like this one.  They are so reassuring.  God is dependable and loyal.  He is always there.  He will answer.  It just give me the warm fuzzies thinking about it!  But recently I read a very similar passage with a very different tone and a very different lesson behind it.  Its from Proverbs.

    "Because I have called and you refused to listen,
    have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
    because you have ignored all my counsel
    and would have none of my reproof,
    I also will laugh at your calamity;
    I will mock when terror strikes you,
    when terror strikes you like a storm
    and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
    when distress and anguish come upon you.
    Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
    they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
    Because they hated knowledge
    and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
    would have none of my counsel
    and despised all my reproof,
    therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
    and have their fill of their own devices.
    For the simple are killed by their turning away,
    and the complacency of fools destroys them;
    but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
    and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.
    Proverbs 1:24-33

    This portion of scripture is sometimes referred to as "Wisdom's Call."  And its a much needed warning.  I can almost see the red lights flashing!  God is good and loyal and dependable but we must be on guard against complacency and laziness and the attitude that says, "I'll just call on God tomorrow.  Today, I'm doing things my own way."  We have to remember that God is calling us too.  I don't know about you, but i certainly want to be listening to Him!

    Have you ever heard people talk about what it sounds like to hear God calling you?  Very few people will tell you that they actually heard God's voice.  And some those people who do tell you that they hear God's voice have potential to be certifiably insane, lol.  Most people will describe hearing God in the way Elijah did (you can find Elijah's story in 1 Kings 19).  Elijah heard God in a still, small voice or a whisper.  At times, God's voice can be the kind of thing that easy to miss.  Especially in our noisy world!  Hearing God's voice takes practice and that's exactly why ignoring Him is so dangerous.

    We need to train ourselves to listen to all the things that God would say to us.  Both the good and the bad.  We need to listen to the things that give us the warm fuzzies like Jeremiah 33:3 and the things that make us a little nervous like Proverbs 1.  A wise man called C.H. Spurgeon once put it like this "Hard words, if they be true, are better than soft words, if they be false."  If only we would be a people who would understand and embrace this concept.  If only we would listen and seek wisdom from anything that the Lord would say to us.

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    The Hartford Project 2011

    This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:23

    The Lord has done this...  God used a group of rascally teenagers from all over the state of CT to change lives and hearts in Hartford.  But let's remember that HE, the LORD, is the one who has done this!  Teenagers cleaned, painted, played, fed, face painted, prayed.  But the LORD did so much more!

    On the last day of the Hartford Project, we gathered at the State House to sing, and share the gospel message with anyone who would listen.  Many people walking the streets or sitting out for their lunch break came to see what we were doing.  As this was going on, I overheard someone from the Hartford Project speaking with a couple of on lookers.  I heard him explaining to these folks all the many things that our groups had done throughout the week.  He talked about the cleaning, and the painting, and the playing etc.  But as I was listening to him, I never once heard him talk about what God was doing and what God had already done just to get him there.  I'm sure that he meant well.  I'm sure he had no idea that anyone, let alone me (a silly eaves dropper), could come to the conclusion that he was just bragging about the things he had done.  But I learned something that surprised me as I listened and watched.

    It's so easy to talk about what we do or have done.  We feel good about talking about these kinds of things usually.  I can very easily picture myself doing the same thing as the man that I over heard.  I wish that it would come more naturally to me to talk about the things the Lord has done and is doing in my life.  I wish I would see every conversation that I have with a stranger as an opportunity to share the ultimate thing that the Lord has done in sending His Son to be my replacement on the cross.  The Lord has done so many incredible things and none of them top that great thing he did so long ago!

    God sent His son, Jesus, out of His great love for us.  Jesus lived a perfect life in complete obedience and submission to God's will out of His great love for us.  He took our sin out of His great love for us.  He gave His righteousness to us and out of that righteousness we are now able to serve others.  That is the greatest thing.  That is the message I wish I had more opportunities to share with the people of Hartford and all the people that I come to meet.  Lord, would you make me bold and stouthearted?  Psalm 138:3